It was the bathroom that spurred lawyer Andrea Pederson into action. “It was Pepto Bismol and lavender,” she says. The prosecution rests.

The timing of the intervention was unclear, however, as her neighborhood in South Minneapolis was seized by a real estate boom and anyone in construction was booked months out. Then she heard of a highly-recommended contractor who happened to have some time available. She had to move fast—if she missed that window, she was worried she’d have to wait six to nine months for another chance.

A call to her long-time bank was not promising; it became clear that the process was going to take over a month. While she was confident it would end successfully, given her solid income, high credit score, and small primary mortgage, she didn’t have time to wait.

She remembered her application process for her primary mortgage, and not fondly. Even as a banking lawyer, she still finds the mortgage process opaque and confusing. Her freelance income was also a substantial hurdle. Not the amount of annual salary, but the fact that 80% of her payments come in December, when her clients typically close out their accounts payable. She works with small and emerging businesses in the healthcare, telemedicine, and software industry, and her bills get paid but in terms of timing she often finds herself “at the bottom of the food chain.”

The worst was when her bank requested that Andrea let them call her biggest clients and get their assurance that they were going to pay her. “Imagine your lawyer’s bank calling to ask if your lawyer is credit-worthy,” she says, still horrified by the request. “It’s not only awkward but unprofessional.”

For her HELOC, she knew she needed another plan.

Let’s pause to discuss the house, which Andrea, 63, shares with two hound rescues and a small poodle mix. It was built in 1939 as a parsonage for the church across the street. Aside from the color-blind and unpermitted changes to the master bath, someone had added a shower in the garage for the nuns. Years of moisture had rendered the garage moldy and unsafe; chunks of plaster would fall on Andrea’s head when she walked through, and the foundation had sunk to slightly below grade.

She started researching online and learned about Figure. She asked her son, an investment banker, to do some research on what seemed too easy a process. He did that and came back with a thumbs up. “Welcome to 2019,” he told her.

The entirely online application threw her a bit, but Figure service walked her through it. “I use my phone as a phone,” she says of her tech skills. “And I don’t have apps.”

The bathroom was gutted down to the studs, rewired, and replumbed. now features a Kohler walk-in shower and white subway tile. “It’s like being on vacation here,” she says of her new house.

And the garage? A neighbor took one look at the clean, bright space and dubbed it the “Garage Mahal.”

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